Another week, another fixture, and yet more debutants for Stone CC this season – we welcome friend-of-Camo Matt (contributing yet another in the illustrious line of Matts in the club) and friend-of-Vice Tom. We are also bidding farewell to Dari who will depart soon after for the West Country for his naval training. Skip was still away enjoying France, so Vice returns to lead the side against a tricky foe, Foxbury Exiles. Don’t let their kawaii (and entirely fictitious) club badge fool you – they play to win and, against us in overs games, they usually do. The toss is again negotiated and, unsurprisingly, they opt to bat first to put on a (big) score for us to chase.
The game has a familiar pattern to it, based on such fixtures in recent years. A couple of their wickets fall early, giving us hope, we contrive to keep their (relatively slow-scoring) other opener in as long as possible, but then he falls and their batting quality shows, leading to a mass of runs being scored. Slates gets their numbers 2 and 3 in fairly short order (and in the same over), leaving them at 14 for 2, but their number 4 clearly fancies it and starts hitting the ball to all corners. His half century comes up off 52 balls, then his century comes off the next 24 balls – oh dear. Walkie finally gets rid of him just after he gets his 100 but the damage is largely done at this point. Everyone goes for at more than a run a ball, bar Slates and Walkie, although at least Vice (with his first ball) and Matt (on his debut, natch) take a wicket each in compensation. The pressure takes its toll on one of the younger members of the team in the field when, to the horror of our resident confectionary expert, he disrespects some iced gems being proffered by his supportive mother on the sidelines. Of this shocking incident, there is more below. Anyway, the imposing total at the close of the 40 overs is 283 for 6.
After tea, Vice and Dari open our reply. It is a daunting task and both unfortunately find themselves daunted within the first five overs, Vice departing for 1 and Dari for 7. A stout defence is called for and Stumpy provides that with aplomb, supported by a newly-promoted Candyman, playing for only the second time at number 4. Their stand is worth 46 runs before Came is stumped advancing down the track and he departs for 17. Slates is next in and clearly plans to take the attack to them, hitting a battling 19 off 24 balls before being caught. James Jessup is next to the crease, but Bateley does not survive much longer, snicking behind to the ‘keeper eight balls later. In at 7 is Tom, playing his first game for us, who has had no luck with the ball when bowling but has no more luck when facing it – a 2-ball duck. Walkie is next and shows a bit of intent with a boundary off his second ball, with the pair of youngsters putting on a total of 24 together before Walkie is caught by their skipper for 8. James goes in the next over for 15, leaving their bowler Roberts with 4-for and us staring down the barrel on 117 for 7 from 32 overs. Sash is then out next over for only 1, but not to Roberts, leaving the last pair of Matt and me. Victory is well gone at this point so it becomes about something else for each of those involved: for them, get Roberts his fifth wicket; for Matt, get runs on debut (and ideally more than his mate Candyman); for me, get any runs at al to avoid another bloody duck and don’t let them bowl us out. The oppo resort to some shenanigans, it must be said, with their ‘keeper nudging bails and the like when someone other than Roberts is bowling – it wasn’t needed, to be frank. Anyway, with attacking fields set, there are runs to be had and Matt cashes in with a very decent 25 off 23 balls (my 4 from 22 was more survival than anything else). He gives one very good chance off Roberts in his final over but their second slip puts it down, leading to a mini pile-on of good-humoured frustration. In the end, Matt and I see things out to the end of the 40 overs – having reached 149 for 9. A moral victory, but not any other kind as we have clearly lost the game by 134 runs.
Since we are in Chislehurst and their pavilion has a bar, we decide to do the match presentations there, rather than travelling back to the Malt Shovel to do so. The debate is fairly lively, as tends to be the case in defeat, and there have been a couple of high-profile incidents that feature strongly in the SBotD voting in particular.